Children with Special Educational Needs
If your child has been identified as having special educational needs by a UK school, they must be registered with the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) in the UK. You should always contact CEAS prior to accepting an overseas posting to ensure your child’s needs can be met.
CEAS will need to be made aware of your posting to the USA so that they can advise on the most appropriate education for your child. The Healthcare and Education Department in the British Embassy may also be able to provide additional information and advice.
In the USA, public (state-funded) schools are generally better equipped than private schools to provide support to children with special educational needs. They are required by law to make available additional resources to deal with a wide spectrum of learning disabilities; therefore they are usually a better option than private schools. Please note that special education provisions vary by region. It is therefore a good idea to get in touch with the local public schools district special needs department in the area you will be moving to in order to obtain advice on support offered locally.
Private schools tend not to have the capacity to provide the support that a special educational needs child will require, and many will not accept children with additional needs. If you choose to educate your child in a private school, the MOD will fund two thirds of all claimable fees, or 90% if your child is in US grades 9-12 and is studying GCSEs or the IB program. You are not entitled to a higher rate of entitlement if your child has special educational needs or to claim for any additional allowances (for example, for extra tutoring if your child is unable to keep up with the school’s curriculum).
If your child is suspected of or identified as having special educational needs whilst they are attending school in the USA, any funding for recommended tests and assessments must be authorised by CEAS. If your child is attending a public (state-funded) school, it is likely that the school will be able to provide any required support for your child. If not, funding for additional support must be authorised by CEAS. If your child is attending a private school, funding for additional support must be authorised by CEAS but is unlikely to be authorised if your local public school can accommodate your child’s needs.
Please be aware that once you move from the UK, there is no guarantee that upon return your child will receive the same level of support that they had before your posting. You may therefore wish to consider enrolling your child in a UK boarding school that can meet your child’s needs in order to avoid disrupting their education.